Oxford United may have lost at Eastleigh last night but Head Coach Karl Robinson was more than pleased with his young side. With an average age of under 19, United showed promise despite the scoreline, as Karl explained in iFollow.
"I don’t like losing but I was really pleased with the players. I was on the bench with Chris Allen and with ten minutes to go I said to him ’ ight. These are your Under 23s now’ because we had subbed off the senior players. ’Look how exciting it is’ I told him because the kids were excellent. We missed a couple of chances and we made mistakes for the goals but with young players you know they have to learn to concentrate for 100 minutes, taking into account added time.
“But I saw them moving the ball like we had worked on in training and they had taken those points on. Maybe they have to learn to win when they are on top but they have to use this to move forward. In the grand scheme of things the first team has to win in the league - we get that- but underneath that there is a belief and an undercurrent through the club that is a strong as it has ever been. The Academy, the Under 23s, the Under 18s - the attention to detail and the pride we take in everything we do is fantastic to see.
"We give chances to our young players here. OK they have to learn to take criticism and we lost this game so there will be work to do but they have to demand more from themselves and always be striving to be better.
"Eastleigh had three strikers with over 1,000 games between them and a bit more know how and experience; knowing who to track, who to drag, when to play on people’s vulnerability. Three of our back four were under 18, the front three were 17, 18 and 19 - we finished with basically an under 18s side playing against an Eastleigh side who will be striving to get in the League. I really wanted to see if the players coped -sink or swim. They did great but it was age that cost them and that’s something we will have to be patient with before they move forward. Time will do that for us, but we will coach them, demand and guide them.
"Tonight our young players showed us we have a great future and some really good players. We cetainly have something to work with."